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The Vineyard On The Hillside
by [?]



Many years ago, in a quaint little village bordering the bank of the Rhine River, there lived a hard-working farmer, named Joseph Swift, and his industrious wife, Caroline.

Their neat little white cottage stood very near the edge of the water, where on the bright, sunny days it was beautifully reflected. On one side of the cottage, there jutted out into the river a little hill, overgrown with grapevines which Joseph had planted, and which as a result of training and watchfulness yielded him abundant fruit. South of the house there stretched a field, bordered on all sides by leafy shrubbery. This plot of ground was used by Mrs. Swift as a bleachery, and through her industry and carefulness she succeeded in making her linen snow-white, so that all the housewives of that village and neighboring town brought her their linens to bleach.

In this way Joseph Swift and his good little wife earned their daily bread and a little more to lay by for time of need.

A big brown dog guarded the bleachery during the spring and summer months; but in the early fall, when the grapes were ripening, he transferred his attention to the vineyard. During the entire year, and particularly in the long winter months, the house was his particular care.

The little family lived happily and contentedly in simplicity and love. These good people found their greatest joy and richest treasure upon earth in their five little children. The youngest was a baby, less than a year old. They trained them with the greatest care, and taught them to work and pray. The children had a living example of goodness and uprightness in their parents. This happy household, however, was soon to experience a great change.

A cold, hard winter had set in and covered the fields and house-tops with many blankets of snow. The river had frozen; and the people feared that when the ice-floes and the immense quantity of snow began to melt, the river would overflow its banks.

Weeks passed and at last a thaw set in. The ice and snow began to melt. The brooks and rivulets swiftly carried the water to the great river.

Joseph Swift and his family retired early one night, and lay wrapped in deep sleep. About midnight, the father’s slumbers were broken by the tones of the village clock. As he became more and more awake, he heard a great splashing of water.

Hastily jumping out of his bed, he seized his clothing and rushed to find out the cause of the disturbance. But so much water had filled the hall that for a moment it seemed as if he could go no further. He managed, however, to push along. As he opened the door of the house, the water rushed in with such force and volume that it almost tore him from his footing. He sprang back into the bed-room and cried: “Oh, Caroline, Caroline, help me save our children!”

Caroline, half awake, tumbled out of bed and wrapped a garment around each child. Then both parents made strides to reach the vineyard on the hill.

The water rushed against them with such violence that they nearly sank with their load. The night was dark, for the moon had long since gone under and heavy clouds obscured the stars. The rain was falling in torrents and a dreadful wind raged about them. The water so filled the streets and by-ways that the Swifts thought each moment would be their last. The children, half asleep, were crying loudly. From each house still louder cries reached their ears.

In the distance, lamps began to flash their lights. Hundreds of people could be seen striving with all their might to reach the hill. On all sides difficulties and dangers confronted them.

Near the low window of a little hut, there stood a weeping mother with her children. She passed them, one after the other, to her husband, who stood in water up to his waist and could scarcely keep an upright position.